After numerous delays, Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu’s third studio album, “Light,” will finally hit stores August 25. The thirteen song set was recorded in numerous locations over the last year, including Jamaica, New York, Los Angeles and Virginia. Matisyahu collaborates with numerous artists and producers on “Light,” including prolific reggae rhythm team Sly & Robbie, Stephen McGregor, David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Sublime) and members of Fishbone.
Matisyahu says that the record was finished over a year ago, but touring duties and change over at Epic Records led to the decision to put it on hold. “A new president got hired at Epic Records – Amanda Ghost. She listened to it and wasn’t really feeling the single,” Matisyahu tells Billboard.com. “I went back in, met with a couple of producers, and made two more songs for the record.” Those last sessions yielded the tracks “For You” and “One Day,” the latter of which will be the lead single.
While “Light” retains the reggae/dub feel that Matisyahu is known for, several songs have him exploring new sonic and vocal territories. “It kind of just happened,” he says of the varied styles on “Light.” “The more I’ve been involved in music, the more I’ve been able to say I like this kind of guitar sound, this kind of production. So, I didn’t feel constricted by anything.”
On cuts such as the roots oriented “Thunder” and the folk tinged “Silence,” Matisyahu abandons the rap-style vocal approach and instead trying his hand at singing. “A person’s voice has a natural tendency to it- you listen to different artists, you listen to different people, and you start to subconsciously mold your voice to how you like it- even if its not the natural way to it,” he explains. “So, I spent all this time listening to Bob Marley, a lot of dance hall- and when I started writing raps and rhymes, it started coming out sounding like a version of those artists. I spent the last four years seriously working on my voice: taking lessons and trying to rediscover my natural voice.”
Matisyahu is currently at the beginning of a summer tour that will take him through mid-July. He’s currently co-headlining with Les Claypool and is slated to co-headline four gigs with Chicago jam band Umphrey’s McGee. Hip-hop artist K’Naan will also provide support for eight gigs.
Matisyahu has been a veteran on the road for years now, and says his time off from touring helped in the creation of “Light.” “The last year, I spent more time at home than I have in the last five years,” he says. “There was something on this record that was more about staying stationary- not running around and just getting into myself, a more introverted place.”
Here is the track list for “Light”:
“We Will Walk”
“So Hi So Lo”
“I Will Be Light”
“Darkness Into Light”